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Wednesday March 29th, 2023

1,000+ unions to go on strike in Sri Lanka on April 28 demanding govt resignation

ECONOMYNEXT – Over 1,000 trade unions in Sri Lanka across multiple sectors have planned a massive island-wide one-day token strike for Thursday (28) in support of the ongoing wave of protests against the government, a spokesman for a union alliance said.

Convenor of the collective of unions Ravi Kumudesh told reporters that the campaign aims to pressure the government to resign.

Unions representing ports, railway, petroleum, health, banking and education sectors will take part in the strike, he said.

Protests have erupted islandwide against the government and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over what has become Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence. A daily protest organised and attended by people with no political party affiliation is being held in front of the presidential secretariat in Colombo for the 19th day running.

Protestors around the country demand that both the president and prime minister resign.

“The general public is protesting asking the government to go home,” said Kumudesh.

“President Rajapksa, due to his incompetence, ego and ignorance, has dragged the citizens of this country into a hole they’re struggling to get out of,” he said.

Over 1,000 unions will join the token strike planned for tomorrow to extend support to public protests, said Kumudesh.

“So far, no union has gone against the ongoing protests. On Thursday, all the worker forces in this country will protest against the government. We will raise black flags and all essential services will be carried out dressed in black,” he said.

“We ask the government to not to escalate this union strike to a continuous protest and leave for good,” he added.

Kumudesh said the organisation plans to expand the protest into a hartal – an Indian word for a total shutdown of workplaces – on May 06 if the government does not listen to the public demand and step down.

Teachers Union Secretary Joseph Stalin told EconomyNext on Wednesday that teachers a government at schools will not report for duty on the day of the strike.

“However, the decision to go for a hartal is not yet finalised. The committee will decide it in the coming days,” he said.

Administrator of the Ceylon Bank Employees Association Rohan Wijesundara, meanwhile, said employees of around 18 private and state sector banks will participate in the token strike on Thursday. However, banks have been informed to take measures to continue operations with available staff, he told EconomyNext.

“We have informed all members of the union representing all 18 state and private sector banks that we are participating in tomorrow’s strike,” he said.

“The managements of these banks have asked the employees to participate in the strike in a way that will not affect the banks’ day-to-day activities. Managing duties for the day is up to the management of those banks,” he added.  (Colombo/Apr27/2022)

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Sri Lanka stocks recover with banking and finance sectors leading the way

Stock Market. Free public domain CC0 image.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s stocks edged up on Wednesday recovering from the two-day loss, with banking and finance sectors pushing up the market as buying interest returned for the day, easing selling pressure, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed up 0.42 percent or 39.03 points to 9,272.43.

The market was on a downward trend since last week as investors are adopting a wait-and-see approach until more clarity is given regarding local debt restructuring after the International Monetary Fund approved the extended loan facility.

“Buying interest has renewed and selling pressures are wearing off,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

Shares at Lanka IOC was gaining during the following week on the news that the Sri Lanka cabinet has granted approval for three oil companies from China, the United States, and Australia in collaboration with Shell Pl to lease 150 fuel stations for each company to operate in the local market.

However, sudden price revision of fuel by the Energy Ministry has hit the shares dragging it down, analysts said.

A crossing was seen by Horana Plantations, with a 51 percent stake change coming into play, the crossing had generated 700 million rupees from the total turnover, Ranatunga said.

The market saw a net foreign inflow of 32.8 million rupees, and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 are 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 0.64 percent or 16.95 points up at 2,673.25.

The market saw a turnover of 1.4 billion on Wednesday, below this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

Top gainers were Sampath Bank, Vallibel One and DFCC Bank.(Colombo/March29/2023)

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Rupee closes weaker at 328.50/329.50 against the US dollar, Bond yields steady

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields were down and the rupee closed weaker in the spot market on Wednesday following an undersubscribed treasury bill auction, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 31.25/30 percent on Tuesday, steady from 31.20/60 percent on Tuesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 28.25/29.00 percent, unchanged from Tuesday.

A one-year bill closed at 24.00/30 percent, down from 24.25/25.00 percent.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 328.50/329.50 rupees against the US dollar weakened, from 325/328 rupees from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March29/2023)

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Sri Lanka tuk tuk, bus fares to be cut on lower fuel prices

CROWDED: An overloaded bus in a suburb of Colombo, leaning sideways with passengers clinging to foot boards.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bus fares will be cut from 12.9 percent from midnight onwards, a public transport regulator said while tuk tuk drivers said they are cutting their free market fares with immediate effect.

“The minimum rate will be cut to 30 rupees from tonight,” Lasantha Alagiyawana acting Transport Minister told reporters Wednesday. 

The minimum bus fare was previously 35 rupees. 

Three wheeler association President, Lalith Dharamsena said the first kilometer is charged from 100 rupees and 80 rupees for the second kilometer.

The price of Petrol 92 Octane will be slashed by 15 percent or 60 rupees to 340, Petrol 95 Octane 95 will be reduced by 26.5 percent or 135 rupees to 375, Auto Diesel by 19.8 percent or 80 rupees to 325, and kerosene by 3.3 percent or 10 rupees to 295.

Wijesekera said on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s advice and in line with the price formula agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the prices will be reduced from midnight today. (Colombo/Mar29/2023) 

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